London Lantern

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Toby Ward's One Man Exhibition of Recent Paintings

21/01/2008, By

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Leading British contemporary artist, Toby Ward is to hold a one man exhibition of his recent paintings at The Catto Gallery, London from the 3rd through to the 24th February, 2008. A collection of 35 canvases offer unique vignettes of 'real life' populated by people and places 'living their lives' all drawn from this artist's vivid imagination, with prices starting from £1,900.

Toby Ward is already well known for his portraiture, subjects include H.M.The Queen, H.R.H.The Duke of Edinburgh and he was recording artist for H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. He is a highly accomplished artist, similar to his late father, the great John Ward RA. "Technically our works are similar but there's no confusion" - not least because his father painted from models, and Toby so much from his imagination. He is regularly invited to become artist in residence, by institutions such as the UN Peace Keeping Force in Bosnia, the National Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Mercers’ Company, the Athenaeum Club, St Martins in the Fields, and the Royal Welch Fusiliers, to date.

These oil studies offer intimate portraits by an acute observer of human nature, with the immediacy of drawings, the humour of a cartoonist and the skill of an accomplished artist. The ‘players’ in Toby’s works are set in natural and everyday settings, all are imbued with an undercurrent of positive energy, making the viewer smile in recognition of a person or a situation. Be it a snatched liaison over some fruits de mer seen in ‘The Minor Delights of Jules Deloffre I’, a heated debate by animated French chefs in ‘Too Many Chefs’ or the panorama of lives on show in ‘The Village Event’.

These are observations of human types, rather than accurate portrayals of ‘real people’. Ward’s own enthusiasm for cycling is reflected in ‘Young Americans’, a Tour de France style race through a welcoming Italian landscape, inspired by Lance Armstrong’s early career.

Active life is illustrated by sportsmen and women in groups, be they running races along the seafront as in ‘Brighton 10K’, or battling white water through a slalom course in ‘Kayak’; and are Ward’s observations of daily life, where he is fascinated by the complex problem-solving in arranging groups of people. Kids playing football in front of a Wren-style church in ‘Ambition’, highlight Ward’s passion for observation and architecture.

Ward is also a keen skier and was recently artist in residence for the Royal Yeomanry ski team in Verbier. A slope full of skiers and snowboarders evoke echoes of Stanley Spencer and1930’s publicity posters in ‘Good Times’.

This commentator on contemporary life portrays the frustration of a blocked move in a game of chess in ‘The Library Match’, with old friends reflecting on life in a French street café over some cards in ‘Cinq Cent Mille’. Or the slightly faded grandeur of a black tie banquet in a City livery hall captured in ‘Dinner in the City’ and a private dinner in a drawing room of a club in London’s Pall Mall portrayed in ‘The Chaplain and the Heavenly Guest’.

His portrayal of sailing dinghies and fishing fleet returning home successfully illustrate Ward’s fascination with drawing and the multiple viewpoint, as seen in ‘Filthy Weather in The Channel’.

Mrs Gillian Catto, owner and curator of The Catto Gallery, said, “We are delighted to welcome Toby Ward and his intimate and affectionate portraits of ‘normal life’ back to the gallery for the second time. This is a perfect opportunity for collectors to see the breadth of styles offered by this unique contemporary master.”

Godfrey Barker, leading art critic and journalist, comments: “The people in Ward’s mind are mostly imagined in France or Switzerland. To high degree he paints them passing time… where happiness is found on ski slopes, or in bars, or at cycle races, or on promenades but always in groups. This sounds casual. But Toby Ward. Like his father, is a highly educated artist who is fascinated by the complex problem-solving in arranging crowds and groups of heads and who studied depth and perspective in Mantegna, Brouwer, Pieter Breughel and Steen.”

3rd February to 24th February
The Catto Gallery
100 Heath Street
London NW3 1DP
+44 (0)20 7435 6660

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